What to do if you spill water on a jigsaw puzzle

This is how to dry wet puzzle pieces so they don't fall apart.

What to do if you spill water on a jigsaw puzzle

What to do if you spill water on a jigsaw puzzle 1024 575 Looking out Loud

This is Daily Dadspeak—daily reflections on becoming a dad, while still growing up myself. You can find the full mini-pod audio list here.


We do a lot of jigsaw puzzles, and we’ve spilled some water over puzzles-in-progress. We’ve tried two different ways to salvage soggy pieces, and one method clearly worked better.

Method 1: separate pieces and dry individually

The first spill was a few months back, soaking a dozen or so pieces. We carefully separated the connected pieces, and dried them individually with paper towel.

The pieces dried, but many of them separated into a handful of thin layers (puzzles pieces aren’t solid cardboard, they’re made of layered pieces stacked together). I spent a looong time pressing layers back together with a glue stick. The good news is the glue stick worked, with a lot of patience.

Method 2: keep pieces together and blot top and bottom

Yesterday my elbow caught another glass, soaking a couple dozen pieces in a new puzzle. Desperate not to repeat my glue-sticking, we tried another approach: we kept the connected pieces together, sandwiched the pieces between paper towels, and left it to dry overnight.

It worked! This morning, I had to look closely to notice the water damage. The pieces were a little less pliable than out-of-the-box pieces, but they weren’t in layers, and the puzzle was salvaged.

Result: in our experience, the keep-pieces-together method was by far the better approach.

Maybe separating the wet piece loosened up the cardboard layers, maybe it was different puzzle brands. I can’t say for sure. But if it happens again, that’s what I’ll try. (Or, we could just keep glasses away from puzzles and not have to worry about it 🤔)

How to dry wet jigsaw puzzle pieces

If you’ve had a little spill over your jigsaw, here’s how to dry out wet puzzle pieces:

  1. Keep the already connected pieces together.
  2. Slide a piece of construction paper, or something similar, under the wet part of the puzzle and carefully lift the puzzle off the table a few inches.
  3. Use a towel to dry whatever water you can from the table.
  4. Slide another paper towel or two between the puzzle and table, and lay the puzzle into the towel.
  5. Blot the top of the puzzle gently with another paper towel.
  6. Leave a dry towel on top of the wet pieces.
  7. Let it dry overnight, and your puzzle should be smiling at you in the morning.

I hope you never need this, but in case you do, I hope it works for you too!


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